Saturday, 17 July 2010

Loch Goil and the seals

I chose Loch Goil for my next exploration, simply because the forecast for the day promised “fresh northerly winds.” I had not experienced the joys of inflatable boating in a fresh northerly before, so decided I didn’t want to travel too far in case it turned out to be a wasted journey. Loch Goil is one of the nearest sheltered sea waters to my home town.

It is a long narrow sea loch surrounded by hills which give it the appearance of a fjord. I thought this would have the advantage that the waves would not build up in the wind, which proved to be true, but it also had the disadvantage that the wind gusted quite strongly off the hills.

The launch point is from the side of the public car park in the centre of Lochgoilhead Village. The tide was almost in, so there was no problem getting on the water and within half an hour I was setting off on my new voyage of discovery.

I decided to motor along the east coast of the loch. The boat was soon flying along at a great rate of knots, propelled by both the outboard motor, the wind and the waves. I cast out my trawling line in the hope of catching a fish or three.

I soon realised that I was covering a lot of ground in a very short period of time so wondered what it would be like trying to get the inflatable back to the village. This would involve heading directly into the wind and waves. I turned around in a wide arc to avoid cutting over the top of my fishing line and immediately got soaked.

I discovered the inflatable doesn’t cut through the waves like a boat with a shaped hull, instead the waves slap the round tubes and come over the front. At least I had a bailer this time and the motor had no problem propelling the boat forward against the wind and waves.

That’s when I decided to go down the west side of the loch instead of the east as it was a more sheltered side. The wind was very gusty and sometimes white horses appeared on the wave tops so I didn’t venture too far off shore but I did manage down to Carrick Castle which is near the far end of the loch.

It was a bit of a fight trying to return to the village as the wind and waves were full in my face the whole way back. I found it best to keep my speed down so the waves didn’t break so high when they hit the front of the boat. That’s when I had my “moment of concern.” The little two stroke outboard engine stopped and I was quickly blown back towards the castle, loosing the ground I had gained when fighting into wind. I was in no danger as I was being blown onto the shore but I was very glad when the engine started again. This time I kept the revs up and had no more problems apart from getting wet.

Half way back up the loch I noticed the gusts were not quite so ferocious so I started to relax and discovered a colony of seals who were sheltering from the wind and sunning themselves on the rocks. I spent a happy half hour taking their photographs as they patiently posed for the camera.

When I finally arrived back at the village, the tide was half way out and the wind was dropping.

Although I didn’t get many photographs, it was an interesting journey and covered another part of my learning curve into the joys of inflatable boating.

I learned that it can be a damp sport in a “fresh northerly”

1 comment:

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